Monday, April 23, 2007

'Jaw dropping' performance from the Beltronics STi Driver, Round II

It happened once again, coming home from a business dinner at about 9:20pm, this evening. This time it was the BEL STi Driver and the Valentine One pitted against a Pennsylvania State Trooper who was hiding in a very wide median strip using instant-on K against westbound drivers of Route 422 towards Reading.

This time the margin of advantage to the STi Driver was about 3-4 seconds while I was initially traveling at about 75-80mph in a 55 zone. Got the initial alert of K on the STi Driver followed then by the Valentine One. Proceeded at a more sedate pace of 60mph for about another 4-5 seconds and then nothing.

Knowing the area well, I usually don't get K alerts here unless there is a speedtrap. Sure enough about 15 seconds later, I spot a cruiser sitting in the center - which is about 200 feet in width with trees and bushes. And then almost an instant after that a full blast of K-band which instantly pegged the signal strength meters of both detectors.

To be sure, both provided ample warning to this particular ambush, but - and this is really the amazing part - I also believe that the STi Driver actually alerted to one additional trigger-pull of instant-on radar to the motorists ahead than did the Valentine 1 and at a point where I didn't have a perfect line-of-sight to the patrol car ahead.

This was a similar kind of scenario, a couple of week ago, with the NJ trooper, who was running an instant-on X-band speedtrap, where the advantage was with the STi Driver at about 7 seconds. I suspect that it too had picked up an additional trigger-pull of instant-on radar to the motorists who were ahead of me on that Interstate at about a distance that was a bit greater at the time of that initial alert. In this instance there wasn't a clear line-of-sight, to the NJ State Trooper, either.

Again, breathtaking performance and I believe these are the first times I have actually witnessed another radar detector [other than the V1] achieving such a performance level in all my years of driving with them.

I will be looking forward to my upcoming trip to Florida and back to see how the STi Driver does against instant-on Ka traps. The one encounter that I had in Florida several weeks ago gave the advantage to the V1 by about 2 seconds - which was pretty big considering the nature of that speedtrap and the fact that I was cruising at about 90mph in a posted 70 zone, but that was with the STi Driver with POP ON. Now that POP is off and the performance decidedly has gone up, I'll be anxious to see how it performs with this configuration.

If it's performance with X and K are any kind of indicator, the results could really be illuminating, indeed.

More to come...

How to quiet-down your Valentine One without giving up performance

Yesterday (Sunday), I drove my usual Northeasterly route - which takes me through parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey that go by some heavily populated areas and heavily traveled highways.

Oftentimes, it is in these kinds of areas, where the Valentine One's extreme sensitivity can put it nicely. Sure the V1 alerts with high frequency to the presence of both X-band and K-band door openers and the like which every strip mall in northern Jersey seems to have, but it is also not uncommon for the Valentine alerts with a relatively high number of Ka-band falses - which come from a plethora of cheap and poorly insulated radar detectors that are operated by the majority of the great motoring unwashed (please forgive my hubris).

Wouldn't it be nicer world if everyone who thought about owning and operating a radar detector - to potentially save them thousands of dollars - would be willing to drop a few more dollars to really have a chance at accomplishing such a thing [by owning an ultra-premium radar detector] while at the same time providing relief to guys like us, who have already made that wise decision?

Pollution is everywhere in these extra-urban areas, it seems - noise pollution, air pollution, and yes RADAR pollution. Things, of course, may be getting better (at least on the air front), but wouldn't it be nice if there were a way to easily abate some of this without having to wait for the driving public to wake-up to its senses and turn their RADAR polluting devices (cheap radar detectors) into solid waste?

Well, there just may be a short-cut to that nirvana, at least with the Valentine One. That short-cut is entitle 'J-feature' disabled. Some of you may be wondering, 'what the heck is J-feature disabled'? Very simply, it is the turning off of POP radar reception. In all of the years that POP radar has been out (now several), I have yet to encounter a real speedtrap that has been employing POP radar as a precursor to standard instant-on police radar usage.

This, of course, is not to say that this specialized operating mode of a particular series of police radar guns manufactured by MPH Industries is not being utilized or more likely mis-utilized somewhere in the country, it's just that I have yet to encounter one in the many of thousands of miles that I have traveled.

Instead, what I have encountered, frequently, is either reduced operating performance of many of my radar detectors when operated with the reception mode enabled or one particular radar detector that, despite it's quieter nature as compared to previous versions (when POP reception was first incorporated into it), is a noisier detector than it has to be.

Yes, I am referring to my Valentine One. More times than not, when I travel on busy highways like I-78, I-287, I-80, I-95, GSP in northern NJ and the outskirts of New York City the Valentine frequently alerts to Ka sometimes followed by the J[unk] alarm muting sequence, sometimes not. At any rate, it all can become pretty fatiguing.

By disabling POP reception, with programming, which is not the default mode of this detector, I have found that my V1 is much more quiet and more livable as a result in these areas. Not once in almost 300 miles today through very heavily traveled roadways did I receive one Ka-false nor J alert. Other times through these same areas, such alerts routinely happen totaling 8-9, on average, a day.

In fact, for now, I am going to leave my Valentine in this quieter mode (as well as my other radar detectors). What I give up for all this peace and quiet is POP reception. But, I keep my blazing sensitivity to all standard police radar band forms of X, K, Ka, and of course the blistering laser reception ability of this radar detector is unaffected in any event.

If I ever end up getting ticketed by some knucklehead operating only POP radar to obtain my speed, I'll know it, because the detector would not have gone off. I don't believe that POP radar can be used to legally issue speeding tickets in and of itself, anyway, and what better way to collect that kind of information at the time of stop. I'd sure like to hear the explanation of the offending-officer to the court why he thinks his in-admissible evidence should be allowable. In other words, I really don't believe that could really ever happen.

My advice* to all existing post-POP owning Valentine One owners, is to try disabling the J operating mode...You may like it and like it enough to leave it off.

My advice* to all owners of Escort Passport 8500 X50, Escort Passport 9500i, Beltronics RX-65 Pro, and Beltronics STi Driver radar detectors is to leave POP reception off so you can not only enjoy a quieter radar detector, but a generally higher performing one, at that.

*Of course, have POP reception enabled, if you are certain you are deriving a benefit from it in the unusual case you actually encounter POP augmented radar speedtraps and receive advanced notification to them with it on.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

How to achieve 'jaw dropping' performance from the Beltronics STi Driver

It's pretty late Sunday night and I just got back from a day's worth of driving testing out the relative performance of both the Bel STi Driver (vA4.M9) and the Valentine One (v3.826) and I am pleased to share my recent experiences with you.

I have now driven with this detector for several weekends over recently and have accumulated almost 1600 miles on this new detector and all I can say is, WOW! What a difference a year makes. It's very clear to me that the 'boys' at Beltronics know what they are doing.

The very first model I drove with showed a solid detector in the making, but appeared to be in some need of should we say, 'some sorting out.' Well. it appears that in the interim of 12 or so months, that Beltronics did just that - they sorted this detector out. I have driven throughout four states with this detector - Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania - and have encountered all forms of police radar with this detector (X, K, Ka (33.8Ghz), Ka (34.7Ghz), Ka (35.5Ghz) with most of the speedtrap encounters being of the instant-on kind and I believe it's safe to say that the Bel STi Driver's performance on these fronts in many cases appears to actually exceed the performance of the mighty Valentine One, particularly on X & K band and particularly with this detector set at its default radar reception operating mode of POP RADAR detection OFF*.

In this mode we have found that we are being notified sooner and farther away from known drone radar sources than with the Valentine One and on a regular basis.

Even without POP mode enabled, we are finding that it's X-band reception performance outperforms the Valentine One sometimes dramatically so - for example, we once received a full seven second plus advanced notification - to an instant-on speedtrap using X-band on I-195 Westbound outside of Trenton, NJ. A seven second advantage to [the Valentine One on] an instant-on trap - when one is traveling at 85-90mph - is pretty huge. To be sure, those types of margins didn't and don't always occur and oftentimes they essentially tie, but to see these types of advantages appear more the once over the course of three weekends and about 1600 miles is notable, indeed.

Valentine has pretty much dominated X-band performance, historically, with the RX-65 Pro almost essentially equaling it in many cases. With the new STi Driver, it appears the Beltronics has actually raised the bar a bit on this reception frequency and its is simply breathtaking to behold, really.

Both K-band and Ka-band reception appears to benefit further by leaving POP disabled on this detector. K-band reception also appears to exceed, on a regular basis, the capability of my Valentine One. We need more time with Ka encounters before forming an opinion, but I am going to look forward to putting some serious miles on this detector to ferret out those details.

Does that mean, to me, that the Valentine One is going away any time soon? Not on a bet, but it is truly marvelous to experience this level of performance from another radar detector manufacturer. I always liked the Beltronics RX-65 Pro from the first day I drove with it and it is quickly becoming apparent to me that Beltronics is not going to sit on its laurels in any way shape or form. They are pushing the envelope and we enthusiast drivers are the beneficiaries.

Forget about the stealth-nature of this detector (immune to VG-2 and Stalcar/SPECTRE III RDDs) - that's just a nice bonus. The levels of performance this radar detector is achieving is absolutely stunning!

My recommendation to the serious driving enthusiasts out there, is add this radar detector to your arsenal, now.

We'll [You'll] have more, when we get it...

*Thanks to Steve (co-founding member of the Guys of Lidar) - who suggested that I try out the latest version of the STi Driver on highway mode with POP disabled - I can share these results.